There’s an old aphorism that came to be known as Greener’s Law, which goes something like, “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.” The origins of the phrase go back a ways, as does its implication–namely, that the news media, taken together, are a filthy beast that is best not provoked, lest it become an enemy and proceed to take a healthy bite out of one’s derrière.
It’s become obvious by now that President Donald Trump has either never heard of Greener’s Law, or (as is more likely) doesn’t really care much. Just the opposite, he takes obvious glee in baiting the media and getting them to do exactly as he wants in spite of themselves. A grand case in point is how Trump, by offhandedly mentioning how the media don’t cover terrorism adequately, goaded reporters into talking about nothing else for 24 hours, just so they could prove him wrong–thus putting the issue front and center before the public, right as Trump is battling the courts over his temporary travel ban. I haven’t seen trolling that brilliant since Lady Gaga wore a meat dress to the VMAs.
Still, as fun as this has been to watch, part of me is beginning to feel sorry for the media. It’s not just that they’re hopelessly overmatched; it’s that they seem to honestly believe that Greener’s Law is still in full effect, even in this age of digital ink. One can almost imagine Don Lemon or Paul Krugman, thinking they’re so gangsta, strolling past the White House and mugging at the Donald, “Nice administration you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.” Nobody seems to have told them, a-la Bugsy Malone, that their machine guns only shoot pies that invariably backfire, splattering their zoot suits and fuzzy fedoras in a sticky meringue of shame.
For those who want to relive the circus that passes for news coverage over the last three weeks, The Federalist has a pretty good roundup. What might be more useful, though, would be if the people falling out of the clown car took a few moments to take account of just how far they have fallen. Maybe they haven’t hit rock bottom yet, but from where they are I’m sure they can see it coming up fast.